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Traditional PNG Musical Instruments Part of ‘Hartenberger World Music Collection’

By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online

Traditional musical instruments of Papua New Guinea are expertly designed and made, with great precision and pride, by craftsmen and Women’skilled in the arts, handed down from generation to generation.

The art of designing and making traditional music instruments is rare; and only a few specialised in the craft are able to do so. In most tribes of Papua New Guinea, it is an age-old tradition, where only a certain family or lineage are skilled in this area. The passing of skills and knowledge is hereditary, handed down from father to son, or from mother to daughter, and so forth.

These traditional tools of music, that we so often take for granted, are prized worldwide and held in high acclaim by art collectors.

One historical music collection, the Hartenberger World Music Collection, is an “assemblage of more than 3,000 musical instruments from around the world” with an estimated value of over $2 million; it is composed of African, Asian, European, Oceanic, Middle Eastern and Central, South and North American instruments, from early pre-Columbian times to the modern era.

The collection is said to “capture one of the greatest artistic expressions of our humanity – music.”

The Oceanic collection comprises traditional musical instruments from Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia; the PNG collection includes idiophones, aerophones and membranophones.

The PNG collection includes, an Asmat Bull Roarer and Asmat carved Bull Roarer, a Shell Trumpet and Shark Mouth Kundu Drum from Gulf, Humboldt Bay Drum, Massim Shell Rattle, Huon Peninsula Hand Drum, Rattle-seed pods, a Korwar-style Drum from Waropen village (east of Geelvink Bay), Mimika Ancestor Drum, coastal Sepik Kundu Drum, Lower Sepik Kundu Drum, Totemic Flute, Trobriand Drum, Papuan Gulf Drum, Gawa Island Drum; and from the Ramu River area – Ramu River Drum and Slit Gong “garamut”.

“The tension and vitality of the people in this region of the world, is reflected in the skillful construction of their musical instruments. These instruments were made to accompany the telling of stories, and the singing and chanting of songs, as it is from these sources of knowledge that history of the old traditions and cultures were told and preserved.”

The Hartenberger World Music Collection was recently donated to the Sheldon Arts Foundation.The collection has more than 800 instruments in the classical and jazz instruments collection that were built in the late 1700s to the mid-1900s.

The Hartenberger World Music Collection of Historical Instruments is the product of years of research and accumulation by Dr. Aurelia Hartenberger, an adjunct Associate Professor of Music at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and Webster University, and World Music Specialist at Maryville University, and Music Coordinator for the Lindbergh School District. 

Some of the instruments collected were for education purposes, and will now be used in education programs by Sheldon Art Foundation, to teach about the music and traditions of world cultures.

Dr Hartenberger’s most recent research “Connecting Standards to Assessment through Core Conceptual Competencies,” was published in the Symposium Proceedings of the 2007 Symposium on Assessment in Music Education.

Hartenberger’s works have also been published in educational journals throughout USA; and has presented clinics and workshops on Neuroscience Research and Learning.

The fascinating and eclectic collection of over 3,000 musical instruments and artefacts has been exhibited in countless art exhibitions, showcasing the beauty of traditionally-made instruments of the world.


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